Didactic Phase

Didactic Phase


Activity / Event Course (if applicable)

Summer Semester 1

OT 510. Therapeutic Interaction - Power & privilege module: Students review multiple materials related to power and privilege. ** Unpacking the white privilege knapsack (McIntosh) associated activity design a knapsack activity  to unpack.  ** They view either 'the talk' clip from Grey's Anatomy or Juliana Mosely "Cultural Humility" & reflect on how this relates to power, privilvege/ "taken-for-grantedness" and then explore elements of this in healthcare.  Students are asked to identify factors that affect occupational justice and access to healthcare.   ** Review Black OT's Matter: Changing your OT Practice to combat racism, address racial trauma & promote healing (discussion /reflection on being an upstander & supporting our collegues, clients and students from diverse backgrounds) ** They also collaborate to create a toolkit for their cohort to use that addresses some of these factors.  This toolkit is designed to be used in further classes and must include UDL, health literacy, and how to determine literacy levels of documents. 

OT 530. Human Occupation & the Foundations of the Profession - Content added to history of OT about contributions of diverse OT Pratitioners, particularly prominent African American OT practitioners.  (goal is for students with diverse backgrounds to see themselves as being able to contribute (not just as recipients of services) and as 'belonging'.

Fall Semester 1

OT 520. Occupational Development Through the Life Span - Cultural humility is a thread in this course beginning with the introduction of Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory to understand spheres of influence, and then a journal club of readings on race and cultural competency to better understand cultural humility (Including McIntosh, White Privilege). Prior to the workshop, class activities focus on viewing Conversations on Race (NY Times videos of diverse individuals on race) with pre-briefing and debriefing in small and large group discussions to help prepare OT students to serve as discussion leaders. The readings and videos are part of the Building Cultural Humility workshop in which OT students working in pairs serve as small group discussion leaders for nursing students attending the workshop. Discussion leaders guide breakout groups through difficult conversations on culture and race, and the whole group (n= 100) participates in several whole-group activities during the 3-hour program. A reflection assignment following the workshop provides rich information about student self-awareness and learning. The Poverty Simulation is another interactive workshop in which OT students participate with students from a variety of majors within the College of Health and Behavioral Studies. In this simulation students are organized into families who go through an abbreviated 4 weeks of life without enough money to cover bills, care for children or eat nutritiously. Faculty members and community workers serve in roles as agency workers, store clerks, bill collecters, teachers, etc. to demonstrate the pressures experienced by families from every angle when living in the state of poverty. There is a large group debriefing at the end of the 3-hour workshop followed up by an in-class debrief and a reflection paper with prompts connecting to student learning objectives.

OT 545. Motor Skills Lab for Occupational Therapy - Group Facilitation & Video projects: Students are required to utilize toolkit developed in the summer to help them apply principles (UDL/accessibility & health literacy) in order to create instructions/videos that are accessible (e.g. for non-readers, captioning...)

Spring Semester 1

OT 580. Occupational Dysfunction - Cause and Impact - Overview of many disabling conditions and student presentations which include reports of health disparity. There is a volunteer component to this course requiring students to interact with a wide variety of individuals in diverse settings such as large and small rehab centers, wheelchair basketball practice, Therapeutic Adventures snow skiing, the School for the Deaf and Blind, Overcoming Barriers (linked to Empowerment3 Center for teaching & learning), and from Western State Hospital for psychiatric patients. Students complete reflection papers regarding their experiences, and are also assigned to small groups to provide an informative report to the class about the populations with whom they interacted.

OT 590. Foundations of Research in Occupational Therapy - Quantitative and qualitative pproaches to research and a variety of designs are introduced so students learn ways to study individuals with disabling conditions and from different cultures.

OT 585. Psychosocial Perspectives in Occupational Therapy Practice - Module: mental health in the community, students explore intersections of mental health with community members. Topics like stigma, trauma (including historical trauma), and interactions with law enforcement are covered.

OT 591. Occupational Therapy Tutorial I - Tutorial cases refer to clients with diverse backgrounds (ability, SES, race...)

Summer Semester 2

OT 663. Policy Analysis and Systems of Service Provisions - Healthy people 2025, social & environmental determinants of health, health inequities, health literacy, uninsured & underinsured, access

Fall Semester 2

OT 600. Assistive Technology in OT Practice - Funding for AT: students are educated about alternative options for funding assistive technologies (many are state level programs in VA). Additionally students are prepared to consider clients' contexts and prepare "good", "better" "best" AT recommendations for all clients.

OT 610. Occupational Therapy Intervention in Pediatrics - Families: students discuss different types of families/family structures. Students also complete readings on racial disparities related to infant/materal mortality rates.

OT 630. Evidence-Based Practice - Students learn search skills to identify evidence even in the absence of access to subscription search engines which may be unavailable in some practice settings. Students review case studies of a wide variety of individuals to practice developing PICO statements and searching for evidence, including for marginalized populations.

Spring Semester 2

OT 640. Occupational Therapy Intervention Throughout Adulthood - Health care funding and ethics for providing equity and justice in services

OT 651. Community-Based Practice - Module looks at under-served populations

OT 692. Occupational Therapy Tutorial Group III - health disparities, underrepresented groups in the poultry industry, CLAS standards, role of federal agencies, geographic representation of immigrant workers in agriculture. Environmental and social determinants of health, OT ethics, OT role in industrial population health.

MOT Program efforts to enhance IE outside of classes

MOT Program efforts to enhance IE outside of classes






In 2019-2020 OT moved towards using a holistic admissions process. This included elimination of the GRE, review of experiences, considerations about diversifying the class in various ways, standardized video essay review with questions about soft skills, problem solving. Since volunteer experiences were difficult to get in 2020, we used online shadowing experiences. 

Recruited diverse MOT Program Alum to diversify admissions committee to ...

To admit a diverse class of students with the background, qualities, and skills needed for success in the profession.

Workforce of OT profession (healthcare in general) does not reflect demographics we serve. This may contribute to health disparities and poor health outcomes

Support Needs of Diverse MOT Students 

Students from under represented groups have reported 'feeling like I don't belong'

On Campus

Help students create connections with diverse faculty & groups (Thrive & SIS) on campus

Share free COTAD resources with OTS & faculty

Increase awareness of DEI issues in broader context of the OT Profession


Creating OTP Alumni- Network

One MOT alum has offered to mentor for students from under represented  backgrounds

Ask alumni for feedback on courses/tutorial cases (on content they would like to see modified/enhanced related to DEI)

Bringing diverse alumni back to speak to students


Student OT Association

Bringing diverse guest speaker (a student from another program who created a COTAD (Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity) chapter. (I am hoping we can create a COTAD chapter here- but the students have to do it)

Established a JMU chapter of COTAD


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